After Much Delay, The Anti-Piracy “Six Strikes” Program Is Nearing Launch

A program intended to fight online piracy without resorting to prosecution was supposed to go live last year but was repeatedly delayed, most recently by Hurricane Sandy. But the folks running the Copyright Alert System (better known as Six Strikes) say it’s ready to go.

“I am pleased to announce that today marks the beginning of the implementation phase of the Copyright Alert System,” wrote the Center for Copyright Information’s Jill Lesser in a blog post from this morning.

The CAS program will identify users who appear to be involved in illegal peer-to-peer (p2p) file-sharing. It’s been dubbed Six Strikes because users believed to be sharing these copyrighted files will receive up to six alerts that increase in their degree of seriousness. The CCI says the process begins with two Educational Alerts, followed by two “Acknowledgement” Alerts that require a response from the Subscriber, and two “Mitigation” Alerts that impose what the group calls “minor consequences to emphasize the seriousness of the problem.”

While it says the enforcement actions will vary from case to case, the CCI gives the following examples of “Mitigation” measures that could be taken:

A temporary reduction of Internet speed;
Redirection to a landing page until the primary account holder of your account contacts your ISP;
Redirection to a landing page where the primary account holder must review and respond to educational information.

The CCI claims that users will not be “blacklisted” just because they receive CAS alerts.

“Even if you receive multiple Copyright Alerts you will have your record of notices cleared if no notices of alleged infringement are received by their ISP for a continuous 12 month period,” explains the FAQ. “At no time will ISPs share personal information (name, address, etc.) with anyone else (including the Content Owners or other ISPs) except pursuant to a properly issued subpoena or court order.”

The big question is how Six Strikes will handle those users who are misidentified as being p2p sharers. The CCI says there is an appeals process that allows the user to request an independent review of the alleged violation. The review comes with a fee of $35, though it will be refunded if the independent reviewer sides with the user. That fee can also be waived, says the CCI, for users who meet certain financial hardship criteria.

“This is a kinder, gentler approach,” writes the Houston Chronicle’s Dwight Silverman. “Whether it will be any more effective remains to be seen.”

Lesser writes that the participating ISPs — Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, AT&T, and Cablevision are all expected to take part — will begin rolling out the alert system this week. This has the possibility of going anywhere from “very smoothly” to “horribly, horribly wrong,” so we’d love to hear from those of you who receive the first of these alerts. If you receive one from your ISP, shoot us an e-mail at tips@consumerist.com and let us know whether you actually did anything to merit the notice. We, of course, won’t post anything to identify you publicly.